The coffee battle brewing between Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s is taking a chilly twist.
McDonald’s, which promised to raise its McCafé game last year, is turning down the heat with the introduction of two cold-brew frozen drinks. For a limited time, customers can order a Cold Brew Frozen Coffee or a Cold Brew Frappe at restaurants. The drinks are available on the McCafé menu starting Wednesday.
Cold Brew Frozen Coffee is cold-brew coffee blended with ice. The Cold Brew Frappe is a Cold Brew Frozen drink topped with a light serving of whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
McCafé does not sell standard cold-brew beverages. The new Cold Brew Frozen drinks, in sizes medium to large, range in price from $3.09 to $3.79, depending on the beverage. However, a small McCafé drink, including the new cold-brew beverages, cost $2, as they are part of the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu.
McDonald's is joining the cold-brew craze, which started a few years ago, because the drink has been a lone bright spot amid sluggish sales in the coffee industry.
Cold-brew drinks are especially appealing to “highly engaged iGen and Millennial consumers” because they tend to drink more coffee throughout the day, like trying new products, and are open to trading up for premium offerings, according to a 2017 coffee report by market-research firm Mintel.
Since debuting in 2009, McCafé menus have largely been unchanged over the years.
The menu includes lattes, frappes, hot chocolate, shakes, iced caramel mochas and iced coffee. Last year, McDonald’s added three new espresso drinks to the coffee menu at the chain’s 14,000 restaurants. The new drinks included cappuccino, Americano and iced caramel macchiato.
Restaurants were also outfitted with higher quality espresso machines, which produce a creamier and thicker milk foam. McDonald’s said the new drinks introduced last year and this summer are part of a plan to elevate the McCafé experience.
McDonald’s also upgraded the syrups, which are now free of artificial colors and flavors.
The Chicago-based burger giant’s refocus on McCafé comes as morning breakfast rival, Dunkin’ Donuts, has made it clear that it plans to increase sales through coffee. Seattle-based Starbucks also plans to boost its cold beverage program.
This year, Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out two next-generation restaurants that rebrand itself simply as Dunkin’. Dropping “Donuts” in the names underscores the brand’s focus on all-day coffee drinks, not just doughnuts.
The company has introduced several beverage LTOs since growing the brand out West, including California, where it plans to open 1,000 units. This summer, for example, the chain is selling ice-cream-flavored coffees. Next-generation restaurants, including one near its home base in Canton, Mass., and another in Southern California, are also testing nitrogen-infused cold brew on tap.
Last year, Dunkin’ added Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee to its coffee lineup.
In May, Starbucks said it plans to focus on the popularity of its cold beverages. Three years ago, cold drinks accounted for 37 percent of sales. Now they make up half of all beverage sales, generating nearly $5 billion in 2017 at U.S. units, Starbucks said. One of the plans is to boost the availability of nitro cold brew, first introduced two years ago. It will grow from 2,300 locations in 27 countries to nearly 4,000 units by the end of the year.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven